Superbowl food doesn’t have to be sooo unhealthy…
Minneapolis has a case of Superbowl fever, as we count down to the big game. For my part, I will be appearing on “WCCO This Morning” on February 2nd, cooking to promote Wear Red day for the American Heart Association, while providing a tasty chili feast that you can make for the big game.
Because heart health is still important on Superbowl Sunday.
Heart disease is a big one for me. I’ve lost loved ones to it, I’ve had heart surgery. But more about that later.
For some reason, the craziness around the Superbowl extends to the food, too. Superbowl food is all about ribs and bacon and chips and dip. It’s as if sat fat were the lucky charm to make your team win. So, to make everybody happy, I’ve devised a chili bar that allows you to serve a vegetable-rich, heart-healthy chili, and offer assorted toppings. It’s Superbowl food for a healthy heart.
I am all in on Wear Red Day- red is my color! It’s also personal for me. The American Heart Association’s Go Red for Women movement is an effort to raise awareness about cardiovascular disease (CVD) in women. CVD is the #1 killer of women- more women than men die of heart disease, more than all cancers combined. And everyone can reduce their risk by 80% with diet and exercise.
Like most of you, heart disease has been a part of my life. My own father died of heart failure, after many years of suffering. It was terrible to watch a strong, athletic person slowly decline as CVD progressed.
Maybe it was my Dad’s habits that made me such a plant-based, get-moving kind of person. That’s why I was shocked when I was diagnosed with a hearth defect ten years ago and had to have heart surgery. There I was I was, riding my bike on 50 mile circuits three times a week, going to kickboxing class, and getting all A’s when I had my blood pressure and cholesterol checks.
My heart surgery story
So when I called my doctor’s office about a weird pain in my chest that I thought was heartburn, the nurse told me to go to the ER. I scoffed. “No way, I don’t have heart problems,” I said. “You have to go.” She said. I blew it off, but after a sleepless night, I gave in and went to the hospital.
After a couple of hours and some tests, it turned out that I had a congenital heart defect called Wolff Parkinson White Syndrome. The heart problem had nothing to do with my heartburn, it had just gone undetected all this time. The doctor recommended surgery. I scoffed again. “I’m too busy to have heart surgery!” I said.
Luckily for me, a determined nurse, whose name I do not know, wouldn’t let it rest. She kept calling me. Finally, she talked me into meeting with the heart surgeon, just to talk.
And a month or so later, I had heart surgery. An ablation, to be specific, to zap away some extra electrical tissue in my heart.
It was amazing, one minute I was being strapped to a table, the next I was awake and looking at my new, perfect EKG. I was home the next day, and was out walking on the trail as soon as I got home.
The moral of the story is, if your doctor says you need heart surgery, don’t put it off. They are really good at these things these days. Better to fix a problem before it gets out of hand.
I want to keep my friends and family healthy, too!
So, I’m in the business of making delicious, healthful food, and I serve it to the people I love. Because we all need to take care of our hearts. Keeping all my loved ones heart-healthy extends to my Superbowl food spread, too. If you need a cool cocktail, check out my Lemon Thyme Slushy.
If people want to, they can pile up avocado and red chilis and cilantro, or they can spoon a bunch of the ground turkey on there. As long as there is a healthy base, it is better than most of the Superbowl food options.
And that is how I put points on the board. One bowl of chili at a time.
Superbowl Chili for Wear Red Day
- 1/4 cup freekeh
- 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
- 1 large onion chopped
- 1 large carrot chopped
- 1 large red bell pepper chopped
- 2 cloves garlic chopped
- 1 tablespoon chili powder
- 1 tablespoon ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 can red kidney beans 15 ounces
- 2 cups vegetable stock approximately
- 15 ounces canned diced tomatoes
- 1/4 cup tomato paste
- 8 ounces ground turkey or seitan plus chipotle powder, if desired
- 4 ounces shredded sharp cheddar cheese
- 4 large scallions chopped
- 1/2 cup fresh cilantro leaves
- 4 large red Fresno or red jalapenos slivered
- 1 cup Greek yogurt
- chopped pineapple, hot sauce, etc.
- In a small pot, bring 1 cup water to a boil, then add the freekeh. Cover tightly and reduce to a simmer, cook for 20 minutes. Take off the heat, stir and drain any excess water. Reserve.
- In a 4 quart pot with a lid, heat the olive oil, then add the onion, carrot and pepper and saute for about five minutes or longer, until soft and golden. Add garlic and stir for a couple of minutes. Add the chili powder, cumin, oregano, smoked paprika and stir, then add the salt, cooked freekeh, kidney beans,vegetable stock, diced tomatoes and tomato paste and stir, simmer for 10, adding water or stock if needed. When the chili is thick, taste for salt and heat, and adjust to taste. Can be made up to three days ahead and refrigerated, tightly covered.
- To serve, warm the chili. Saute the turkey or seitan in a little olive oil, adding a pinch of salt and a pinch of chipotle powder, if desired. Serve all the toppings in bowls, and let your guests serve the chili and spoon toppings on top.